Beginner tries a RTW on a CRF250L

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Martygarrison, Aug 14, 2018.

  1. Martygarrison

    Martygarrison Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    179
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    London June 5, 2018

    The flight from Vancouver to London was non eventful and clearing customs was a breeze. Note unlike most other EU countries the UK requires you to use a Customs Agent which runs about 150 pounds. You actually pick the bike up about 4 hours after landing at their warehouse, most of which are very near Heathrow.

    My Russia visa was not valid until June 24th so I had 19 days to ride 1500 miles to the border. I had no plan other than to spend some time in London with friends then meet Peter and Leonie Scheltens in Harskamp on the June 10th. They had recently completed a 3 year multiple continent RTW on a couple of CFR250's and Peter had ordered a set Mitas E07's plus a couple of liters of synthetic oil for me. I was carrying some K&N oil filters so the plan was to mount the tires and change the oil at their place in Holland. This was also going to serve as a lesson for me in tire changing/flat repair as other than watching some YouTube videos I had never done either before.

    34686127_10155799415684151_2509418836931903488_n.jpg
    Hampstead, London




    I had lived and worked in London through much of the 90's but hadn't visited in a few years. It was great to see old friends and catch up, play a little golf (poorly) and relax. Time went quickly and after 3 days I was off. Plan was to ride to Harwich and take the overnight ferry to Hook of Holland.

    34588584_10155803793959151_6494460090261700608_n.jpg
    Harwich UK. These folks from Denmark were on their way back from the Ilse of Man TT. Had some great stories

    34644284_10155803793964151_1284785182506745856_n.jpg
    English couple on their way to the Arctic Circle in Finland then riding back via Sweden. This sounded like a fun trip

    I had booked a private cabin on the overnight ferry and was really impressed with the berth. Slept great and landed in Holland refreshed. Hook of Holland to Harskamp was an easy ride and maybe took me a couple of hours.

    IMG_5613.JPG
    My berth on the overnight ferry to Holland. It was about the same price as a hotel
    #21
    StanBo, sarcus, knight and 7 others like this.
  2. Martygarrison

    Martygarrison Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    179
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    June 9th Harskamp Holland.

    I made it to Harskamp, checked out the town and planned to meet Peter and Leonie the next day. Beutiful town right on the Nationale Park De Hoge Veluwe.

    IMG_5617-1.jpg
    Harskamp, nice little town in simi rural Holland.

    It was great to meet Peter and Leonie and their newly born son Jack the next morning and Peter and I went to work on the bike. I would like to say it was a joint effort but honestly Peter did most of the work.

    35162058_10155808086584151_8387682099540262912_n.jpg
    Peter and Leonie of Amsterdam to Anywhere fame.

    35043498_10155808086534151_4722245013566652416_n.jpg
    Wanda getting some new kicks

    35078379_10155808086579151_8841797908098449408_n.jpg
    Here "we" are changing the front tire.

    I came away from Peter's tutelage only hoping I never got a flat. I was sure I could get through it but Lord knows how long it would take me. Next up Potsdam, Germany then on to Warsaw, Poland.
    #22
    StanBo, sarcus, Ginger Beard and 18 others like this.
  3. Dread

    Dread Putt-Putt Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    483
    Location:
    Boise, ID
    This is so awesome! Just go, what the hell!
    #23
    foothillsrider and Martygarrison like this.
  4. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    23,118
    Location:
    Burbank CA
    we'll keep you company....enjoy and ride safe.
    #24
    TM1(SS), Martygarrison and Sfcootz like this.
  5. bk brkr baker

    bk brkr baker Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    9,676
    Location:
    The Bluegrass
    You really should have changed your own tires. If no other reason than to get that first and maybe second pinched tube behind you , while in a place where you could get replacements. You also need to get proficient with patching for when there are no replacement tubes available .
    #25
    Ginger Beard, BIG-E, OHjim and 2 others like this.
  6. Martygarrison

    Martygarrison Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    179
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Fair enough. I carried an extra 21" tube and patch kit and went with the pray I don't get a flat method.
    #26
  7. Dread

    Dread Putt-Putt Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    483
    Location:
    Boise, ID
    It’s all good. You will learn about flats in your own time. Problem with ADVrider is there is always someone who will criticize you here. They come out of the woodwork for some reason and feel the need to preach. You are a new rider, on a new bike, riding around the world. You should change your name to BrassBalls. You have more mojo than most, myself included. Carry on and keep riding (and reporting).
    #27
    TM1(SS), StanBo, knight and 37 others like this.
  8. Sfcootz

    Sfcootz domodnatrix Super Moderator Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2013
    Oddometer:
    22,226
    Location:
    San Francisco
    :stupid

    I'm really looking forward to reading your report.
    #28
  9. Martygarrison

    Martygarrison Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    179
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    I had visited Germany a few times in the past but never driven there. My next goal was Potsdam some 350 miles away. I got a late start out of Harskamp and jumped on the E30. I had always wanted to experience the Autobahn and see if there truly was no speed limit. What better way to cross Germany on a Honda 250. I don't have any pics of the road but it was outstanding. Most of the road was two lane without a posted limit. For the most part I stayed in the slow lane with trucks that surprisingly drove pretty much right at the speed limit of 50mph. This proved troublesome for me as that was right between 5th and 6th gear which forced me into the fast lane far too often. Nothing like a car going 120mph coming up on the rear. It's amazing how fast they come up on you.

    Arriving in Potsdam I really fell for the city. The plan was to spend a couple of days there with a day trip to Berlin. In the end I just bopped around the city for a couple of days.

    35189875_10155812041479151_2823066039267360768_n.jpg
    Potsdam, Germany. Great little city

    35077334_10155812041544151_2929979281482186752_n.jpg

    35193532_10155812041294151_4459935761478713344_n.jpg

    35102800_10155812041389151_8153609998270726144_n.jpg

    I was somewhere between 2 and 3 weeks into the ride which in 18 years of marriage was the longest time my wife and I had been apart. We missed each other. On to Warsaw and a nice surprise.
    #29
  10. Martygarrison

    Martygarrison Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    179
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Warsaw is around 360 miles from Potsdam, a distance well over what I had ever ridden in a day. In fact across all of North America my longest day was 318 miles while crossing South Dakota. I decided to break the ride into 2 days and spent the first night in Poznan, Poland. I was happy to be in a new country and I could tell I was moving further east. English became harder to come by and the roads were a little rougher but posed no issues. I rode to Warsaw the next day where I received a gift from God, my wife Vanessa had flown in to see me.

    35493198_10155820813659151_7194025845197897728_n.jpg

    35482283_10155820813654151_2219850097431150592_n.jpg

    I had 7 days before I could enter Russia and was really only 3 moderate days away from the Latvia/Russian border so we were able to spend 4 days in Warsaw, sleeping in, walking around and basically just being tourists. Somewhere in Poland one of my front turn signals went out so sourcing and replacing a bulb was the only motorbike related thing I did that long weekend.

    I didn't realize this but Warsaw was almost completely destroyed in WW II. For the most part the city is a hodge podge of old Soviet tower blocks mixed in new skyscrapers and just about everything in between. The old town district has been beautifully restored and frankly is where we hung out most of the time.

    35483801_10155820813824151_97216945522212864_n.jpg
    Warsaw, Poland Old Town

    35399290_10155820813669151_196780566685679616_n.jpg

    Four days went very fast and I had burned through all of my spare days between London and the Russian border so it was time to ride. Three days through Northern Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. Now I was on a schedule that would not relent until Vladivostok, some 7,000 miles away.
    #30
  11. joenuclear

    joenuclear Still here....

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    10,125
    Location:
    Fort Smith, Arkansas
    I like your perspective on Warsaw. Thank you for your effort on this RR.
    #31
  12. deadzed

    deadzed Meat Popscicle

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    231
    Thanks for the great pics & stories.
    I'm in.
    #32
    sarcus and Martygarrison like this.
  13. avbjessup

    avbjessup Growin older but not up

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    183
    Location:
    Clearwater, FL
    Your wife is STUNNING!!!
    #33
  14. Martygarrison

    Martygarrison Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    179
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Warsaw to Rezekne is around 450 miles which I had 3 days to ride. I got another late start as I saw Vanessa off to the airport and I headed to Bialystok in Northeastern Poland. I knew nothing about this town other than I was headed north towards the Latvia Russian border. I was pleasantly surprised by this old market town. Beautiful city center square and seemed like an upmarket place. Lots of outdoor cafes and the like.


    IMG_5878.JPG
    Bialystok, Poland

    I spent a nice late afternoon and evening in the city and headed off to Kaunas, Lithuania the next morning. Maybe a 180 miles, crossing the Poland/Lithuanian border which was nothing more than an EU sign. Once in Lithuania I encountered the largest military convoy I had ever seen. Super modern war machines for miles. Turns out there were some Nato war games going on. I doubt the Russians care for these. Anyway Kaunas is another pretty nice town, the hotel clerk even described it as the "Paris of the Baltic States". I wouldn't go that far but it was nice.


    36032566_10155831565059151_6629857027302621184_n.jpg
    Entering Lithuania


    35849195_10155831565009151_4647797300293271552_n.jpg
    Somewhere in Lithuania. Traffic was very light before seeing the Nato machinery

    IMG_5946.jpg
    Kaunas, Lithuania the "Paris of the Baltic States". I guess they were working on their version of the Champs de Elysee right outside my hotel window.

    One more day to Rezekne, Latvia and the Russian border. I'm getting pretty excited.
    #34
    sarcus, 78er, forgorin and 9 others like this.
  15. climberevan

    climberevan planning the next journey

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    542
    Location:
    Carson Valley, NV
    I love that you just bought a bike and went for a RTW ride with hardly any prep. Most seem to do an entire months-long report on all of the modifications they made to their bike before the ride started. You, sir, are Keeping It Real. (From one climber to another.)
    #35
  16. Martygarrison

    Martygarrison Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    179
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    From Kaunas it was a straight shot up to Rezekne, Latvia, some 40 miles for the Russian border. As soon as I crossed the Latvian border the roads began to worsen, however nothing terrible. The towns also changed to what looked to more a run down Soviet style architecture. I had not been able to find a hotel in Rezekne so I opted for what seemed a Latvian Airbnb solution. Unbeknownst to me I had arrived on "Liigo" or the celebration of the Summer solstice. I met the owner of the apartment at a local gas station and followed him to my room for the night. He told me that tonight folks would be in the streets all night drinking beer and apologized if the noise became a problem.
    IMG_5961.JPG
    What appeared to be the only Hotel in town. No rooms




    35963770_10155835733589151_3948869940706017280_n.jpg
    My AirBnb for the night

    35949075_10155835733634151_3972848807544094720_n.jpg
    I was a little wary on what my room might be for the night.

    IMG_5981.JPG
    Success! Room was great, had a desperately needed washer, refrigerator and I had zero noise for the night.

    I was now 40 miles from the border with a visa that was valid the next day. I had heard the Russian border might take as long as 4 hours to crossed so I planned on getting up early as I had about 200 miles to ride after the crossing.
    #36
    StanBo, sarcus, Ginger Beard and 8 others like this.
  17. Martygarrison

    Martygarrison Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    179
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    The next morning I rode the 40 miles to the border on just a terrible road. I was hoping this was not an omen on what was to come. The border was interesting. First I had to cross out of Latvia which took maybe a half an hour. Mostly because of the bike and showing that I had brought Wanda into the EU on a temporary import. I then drove through some type of short no mans land to the first of three checkpoints on the Russian side. The first two appeared to just check if I had my papers in order and the last one where the real business occurred. There was a long line of trucks ahead of me but I was waved to the front of the line. It took about 3.5 hours to cross with a good half hour trying to explain why I had an American passport but my bike was from Columbia (District of Columbia). I had to attempt to explain this to 3 different customs agents, non who spoke a word of English. I'm afraid the 6 words of Russian I knew weren't all that useful. Eventually they either understood or just gave up, I'm not really sure. Everyone was pleasant and as long as you are patient it was really not an issue.

    Having cleared customs I was waved on and stopped at the first gas station. I was on the hunt for insurance for Wanda. I was directed to a small hut on the side of the station where I was able to get the bike covered for 2 months (liability only) for less than 20 euros.

    That finished I was off. What a great feeling it was to finally be in Russia headed East. The road from the border to Moscow was really not bad. There was little truck or traffic of any kind. The only thing that surprised me was they don't always mark road construction the same as the States. I would be riding some 55 mph when suddenly the tarmac was gone and I would be riding on the grooved underbelly of the road. It wasn't bad riding but of course my tires would track on the grooves. It took getting used to is. I passed a lot of locals selling goods on the side of the road, berries mostly but some folks for also selling hats, animal pelts, honey. I was in Russia and it was so fascinating!

    It was and easy ride to the lodge I had booked for the night and left me less than 200 miles to Moscow! Did I mention I was excited?!

    IMG_6019.JPG
    Lodge about halfway from the border to Moscow

    IMG_6009.JPG
    There was a small lake with a beach and I had to jump in


    IMG_6020.JPG
    Wanda in Russia!
    #37
    TM1(SS), StanBo, sarcus and 17 others like this.
  18. Hollywood D

    Hollywood D Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 24, 2018
    Oddometer:
    223
    Location:
    Colorado
    Super cool. I feel like Jason Bourne might show up in some of those pics. Safe travels.
    #38
  19. Martygarrison

    Martygarrison Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    179
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    The next morning I slept in trying to time my arrival in Moscow to avoid whatever rush hour traffic they might have. I rode out of the forest which I had followed since the border crossing into what appeared industrial satellite cities around Moscow and then finally Moscow proper. The traffic wasn't that bad although I did get pretty hopelessly lost once I exited the highway into the city. I had the gps coordinates of my hotel but wasn't all that competent with the Gamin just yet. I had a Sena system which was a life saver but I apparently wasn't always following the directions. Anyway I wandered around downtown Moscow lost but in awe for about an hour, stopping and taking photos along the way.

    36188430_10155842362654151_1994937391877455872_n.jpg
    Lost but having fun

    36175977_10155842362704151_4891943668262371328_n.jpg

    36222498_10155844538944151_2962049819461287936_n.jpg
    This has got to be one of the Worlds ugliest monuments

    After going around in circles I finally found my hotel on a little mews where you actually had to enter through an arched driveway off a side street. It wasn't even marked on my Garmin map although I did not have the actual Russian one yet. I knew I was in the right spot when I pulled up and a couple of bikes were already there. Alex of Rusmototravel uses this hotel as a base for his Trans-Siberian tours.

    36236649_10155840509149151_1547839237758386176_n.jpg
    A couple of Brazilian guys had rented these bikes for the world cup.
    #39
    StanBo, sarcus, Ginger Beard and 11 others like this.
  20. Martygarrison

    Martygarrison Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    179
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    I really liked Moscow. It seemed European but not really. The city was full of World Cup fans and while security was tight it was certainly not oppressive. The city was spotlessly clean and had a festive atmosphere. I had two days to be a tourist which would be my last multi day break until I hit the Sea of Japan.

    36137266_10155842362499151_3351484563003015168_n.jpg
    Cathedral of Christ the Savior

    36223005_10155842907594151_3802975059916619776_o.jpg
    Red Square

    36290271_10155842362719151_2968043712610828288_n.jpg

    36259901_10155842362679151_6498092576032161792_n.jpg
    #40
    TM1(SS), StanBo, sarcus and 12 others like this.